My Core Beliefs as a Libertarian

There are too many laws.  I urge each voter to go to the library, find the Vermont Statues Annotated and stand next to them for a minute and think about the sheer magnitude of the number of laws.   Pull a volume at random and read for a minute.   Can any citizen understand the scope and breadth of so many laws?  Can the police who are supposed to enforce them?

My core beliefs as a Libertarian are personal responsibility, the sovereignty of the individual, and economic and personal freedom.  Over the last two legislative sessions, the legislature worked on sick care insurance, marijuana regulation, school consolidation and gun control.  Let’s deal with each of them one at a time.

Sick Care/ Health Care

I call it sick care legislation because health care is essentially personal responsibility.  Health care is about eating right, getting a good night’s sleep, getting enough exercise, breathing clean air and drinking clean water.  The state has taken care of its share of these and individuals are certainly capable of their share without the government being involved.  The legislature has inhibited the insurance industry from doing what insurance companies do:  buy risk.  The idea of community rating has driven all but a few companies out of state.  Shouldn’t people who are smokers or obese pay more?  They are at higher risk for health problems.  Shouldn’t older citizens pay more?  More is spent on care in the last few years of life than at any other time.  Shouldn’t people who take dangerous jobs pay more?  They are more likely to have accidents than the general population.  For those with chronic conditions, a subsidized pool can be set up so care can be given.  Sick care is not a right.  No one has a right to another’s services without paying for it.

Marijuana Regulation

Lots of time was spent on trying to find a way to legalize marijuana, and nothing happened.  What should be taken into account?  No one wants kids to have it, people on the road who are high or drug dealers outside the law.  With that framework in mind, a responsible marijuana industry is a good answer.  They must sell their product below what the black market sells for, make sure their product is safe, consistent and reliable.  According to the Rand Study, there are about 80,000 Vermonters who smoke marijuana regularly (I am not one of them).  If you truly believe this should be illegal, then how do you propose to make these criminals pay their debt to society?  Imagine all of them grew a small plant and all called the police on the same day at the same time.  More than one-tenth of our population would have to be criminally prosecuted.  Imagine the police work, court time and prisons that would have to be built to deal with this.  I propose repealing all laws that deal with marijuana and instituting one law:  it will be illegal to sell or furnish marijuana to a minor and illegal to operate a vehicle on Vermont roads having ingested same.  No other regulations would be necessary.

Gun Control

Vermont has some of the most lax guns laws in the country.  There is little evidence that guns bought here are being used in crimes elsewhere, despite what gun control advocates say.  The campaign was financed by out of state money.  Their “evidence” is faulty.  The time the legislature spent on this issue was a complete waste of time.  Leave well enough alone.

School Funding

There are several problems with our school funding and the legislature has completely ignored the common sense solutions and the underlying cause of disproportionate increases in the cost of education compared with the growth of the student population.  One problem is the abuse of the income sensitivity property tax provisions.  Rebates can be up to $8,000 and incomes as high as $135,000.  One should not buy a house they can’t afford, and property taxes are part of that expense.  The other problem is that there is absolutely no reason to defeat a bloated budget when no matter how much is spent, a rebate will be coming.  I support public education, but as a retired public school teacher, I saw  lots of places where money could have been saved.  I advocate full choice for parents and students to attend the school of their choice:  public, private, charter or parochial.  It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court equated money with opportunity.  What do Larry Ellison (Oracle CEO), Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) and Ralph Lauren have in common?  They all grew up very poor.  They all had the promise of America and took advantage.  Money is clearly not opportunity in America!

In summary, I believe most problems are human and government will not solve them.  If you take a look at the number of helping government agencies, it’s hard to believe that a single person could fall between the cracks.  From the Agency of Human Services website is this paragraph, “The Agency of Human Services (AHS) has the widest reach in state government and a critical mission: to improve the conditions and well-being of Vermonters and protect those who cannot protect themselves. Whether helping a family access health care or child care, protecting a young child from abuse, supporting youth and adults through addiction and recovery, providing essential health promotion and disease prevention services, reaching out to elder Vermonters in need of at-home or nursing home assistance, enabling individuals with disabilities to have greater independence, or supporting victims and rehabilitating offenders, AHS serves Vermonters with compassion, dedication and professionalism.”  Add to this all the local help from churches, the United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army etc., there is more than a sufficient social safety net.

I will not vote for any tax increase and not vote for any law that restricts personal freedom and choice.  My job will be to cut spending, roll back restrictive laws and go home in six weeks, returing my pay to the taxpayers.  I would appreciate your vote in November.

Ted Schaft